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DECEMBER 2014 • DISPLAY UNTIL 12/16/14 VOLUME 27, NO. 12 • $5.99 US

Engaged Media By Beckett

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… Jen O’Connor Presents… Artful Décor and Accessories for the Handmade Life and Home paintings, jewelry, folk art, textiles, soft-sculpture, heirloom toys, pottery art dolls, vintage items, luxury goods, books, paperies, fashion and more


VISIT US! Browse the extensive on-line gallery and shop for the best in original and handmade *OINTHEMAILINGLISTFOROFF NEWSONOUREVENTS SALES SPECIALPROMOS ANDMORE

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ON THE COVER • Best of country-style Christmas…………. 48, 70, 80, 86 • Winter white: Cozy up to relaxing color palettes………10, 30, 60, 86, 88

Best of

country-style christmas

• 47 holiday décor, recipes and entertaining ideas….….12, 20, 26, 32, 48, 60, 70, 80, 86 • Dear Santa, Here are our wish lists!........42–47


48 In Finnish Fashion

Use old Christmas cards and everyday supplies to create

Bring home the holiday look of this elegant country-

beautiful, unique holiday accents.

style home.



26 Sweet Enjoy the perfect winter chocolate cake, complete with a

50 Family Matters This shop owner kept her childhood home in the family,

subtle hint of peppermint.

but still made it her own.



60 Classic Christmas Discover how your home can shine with vintage appeal, like this French country-style charmer.


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BRING IT HOME 20 Make It These simple crafts will have you decking the halls with DIY décor.


24 My Home Readers share amazing stories about their homes.

24 Love This! These sweet angel wings are the perfect accent for your tree, but you may want to keep them out year round!

32 Say Ahh See how this designer balances traditional


and contemporary customs in festive European style.




80 Christmas Inspiration:

Farmhouse Style

Create a winter wonderland at home with expert tips on refreshing your Christmas décor.


86 Rustic Romance Learn how to create a stunning table that features simple, rustic style.


SHOPPING 42 Browsing See what our editors are wishing for this holiday season!


94 Shopping Guide Where to find the products featured in


this issue.

IN EVERY ISSUE 6 8 38 94 98

xo Letters to the Editors TaDa Coming Next Month Favorites

ROMANTIC HOMES (ISSN 1086-4083) Volume 27, Number 12 is published monthly, 12 times a year by Engaged Media by Beckett, 22840 Savi Ranch Pkwy., Suite 200, Yorba Linda, CA 92887. Periodical postage paid at Anaheim, CA, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Romantic Homes c/o Engaged Media by Beckett, 4635 McEwen Road, Dallas, TX 75244. © 2014 by Beckett Media. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. GST #855050365RT001 Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: PITNEY BOWES, INC. P.O. Box 25542 London, ON N6C 6B2.

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XO DECEMBER 2014 • Vol. 27, Issue 12


beauty in THE BANAL

Another round of long days in a short year is coming to a close. Our home began 2014 with an unkind winter, only to be rewarded with the best summer in memory. Air conditioning lost its standing to ceiling fans and light sweaters in the evening. We practiced the importance of reusing what we already have and finding beauty in things passed down. If anyone wants tutorials on the endless uses of a glass salsa jar, I am your girl! My son started a bottle cap collection. We made our own bread and bug spray. A paintbrush is now my devoted friend. Ellie, a 3-year old rescue dog, joined our family—although “rescue” is not really accurate based on the hugely elevated fun factor she brought with her. To sum up the year, many pleasures were found in the banal. A small dog that chooses to nap next to your feet rather than with a soft blanket … a boy’s fascination with what can be scooped from the sea … being inspired by the offerings at the Wednesday farmers’ market and basing the evening dinner on what you take home … The holidays are a culmination of these themes: being home with family and finding inventive ways to celebrate the season without making life overly complicated. xo,

Creative Director/Editor: Jacqueline deMontravel Editorial Director: Jickie Torres Managing Editor: Anne Brink Assistant Editor: Sarah Jane O’Keefe Art Supervisor: Elena Oh Art Director: Marisela Avalos Contributing Editor: Malena Jaime Editorial Interns: Thea O’Dell, E.S. Ro Contributing Photographers: Bret Gum, Mark Tanner

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EDITORIAL, PRODUCTION & SALES OFFICE 22840 Savi Ranch Parkway, Suite 200 Yorba Linda, CA 92887 (714) 939-9991 Fax (800) 249-7761 ROMANTIC HOMES (ISSN 1086-4083) Volume 27, Number 12 is published monthly, 12 times a year by Engaged Media by Beckett, 22840 Savi Ranch Pkwy., Suite 200, Yorba Linda, CA 92887. Periodical postage paid at Anaheim, CA, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Romantic Homes c/o Engaged Media by Beckett, 4635 McEwen Road, Dallas, TX 75244. © 2014 by Beckett Media. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. GST #855050365RT001 Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: PITNEY BOWES, INC. P.O. Box 25542. London, ON N6C 6B2.

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Jacqueline deMontravel Editor

Nick Singh: Executive Director Vikas Malhotra: Vice President Erin Masercola: Group Editorial Director GST #855050365RT001 Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: PITNEY BOWES, INC. P.O. Box 25542

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Over 75 Colors





Metallic Waxes

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letters | to the editors


MY GRANDMOTHER ONCE TOLD ME, “Life is breakable, but dishes can be replaced.” Grandma was right about many things, but I wondered, How could the beautiful cupboard filled with antique dishes ever be replaced? Some pieces belonged to my mother, Ardell; others, to my grandmother Gretchen; and a precious few were my great-grandmother’s. Growing up, cut-glass bowls were filled with handpicked raspberries and blueberries. Beautiful Bavarian china would be brimming with simmering soup, and a coin dot pitcher came out every summer to serve thirsty children icecold lemonade. Some of these antiques have been in my family since long before I was born. My wine decanter and matching glasses were used to toast many special occasions, including my grandmother’s engagement, my mom’s christening, a special 50th wedding anniversary and the celebration of a bountiful crop. Generations of hungry family members have gathered at the holidays, using dinnerware that was already considered old one hundred years ago. These dishes seem irreplaceable: the Nippon and Noritake plates, the Depression glass and the Limoges China are my family’s tradition. You might think that I store these heirlooms in a cabinet to be admired, but I use them regularly. I use them despite the fact that they are fragile. These dishes, like my family, are survivors. Our cherished dinnerware and dishes survived many moving trucks and clumsy users. They have endured for many decades, and I trust they will continue to do so. Every time I pick up one of these platters of history, I feel connected with my ancestors. Meals were an important social function for them, and the place settings accentuated a sense of belonging. When I visit the homes of my friends and relatives, I realize many have heirloom collections, but few use them. If your antique plates could talk, they would tell you that they are to be used, not just displayed. Should one of my priceless dishes break while being used, I won’t worry. If my great-grandmother’s dishes could talk they would say, “Life cannot be replaced, but dishes can!”

Share with us! Romantic Homes loves to hear from you. Please write and tell us how we’ve inspired you or what you’ve done to decorate your home using our ideas. We are also happy to answer any questions you may have. Romantic Homes reserves the right to edit all letters. Send letters or queries to Romantic Homes, Beckett Media 22840 Savi Ranch Pkwy., Suite 200, Yorba Linda, CA 92887 or

Marge Jesberger Submitted via email

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we love | so pretty

CHEERFUL ACCENTS Keep the spirit of the season flowing throughout your home with simple displays that don’t distract from the main attraction. DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON, décor is revamped with impressive displays of fresh pine, glittering lights and countless ornaments. Give your Christmas decorations a bit of breathing room by spacing out décor elements. Instead of overwhelming a room, create a singular focal point that is accented by a few smaller vignettes, giving the eye space to rest. Here a buffet table hosts a pedestaled bowl filled with classic Shiny Brite bulbs. By displaying an array of pastel bulbs, a cheerful yet chic accent is created. Keep up the happy look by offsetting the crisp metallic display with white roses in a simple blue mason jar and a touch of pine trimmings. The result is a delicate vignette that looks stunning on its own—but won’t steal the show from your room’s main focal point.

Add white tapers for the perfect New Year’s Eve accent! 10



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we love | simply

from past to



TIP Date the back of your DIY project and write something brief about the holiday. Make these ornaments year after year, and they will become wonderful heirlooms for generations to come.



Old Christmas cards, scissors, glue and access to a computer and printer are all you need to fashion thoughtful and one-of-a-kind holiday accents.

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WHEN IT COMES TO PREPARING for the holidays, it doesn’t matter how much planning has taken place—there always seem to be a few things that fall by the wayside. While it is the small details that make holiday decorating, gift giving and events so special, often it’s those same “small details” that get left off the huge to-do lists. Panic not, for even in the eleventh hour there are ways to make sure these details are addressed with elegant style. You can decorate so that it looks like you spent weeks crafting, yet no one needs to know that 15 minutes did the trick!

Invitations The holidays come but once a year, so why not make occasions special with traditional invitations? This doesn’t mean you need to take a lot of time. Look online for downloadable, vintage-inspired invitations and cards; then personalize them and print as many as you need. The invitations can either be mailed or wrapped in ribbons and hand delivered. It’s a lovely way to set the tone for a special celebration or gathering.

Place Cards Using place cards is a traditional and formal part of hosting a dinner party. Keep the tradition alive, but remove the formality by making the cards not only personal but whimsical too. Just about anything can be used for the cards, like recycled cards from years past or scrapbook papers. Gift tags can go from after-thoughts to thoughtful keepsakes. For pennies a tag you can create personalized gift labels for everyone on your list.

It’s all in the details, but don’t fret about time and cost. These tips will help you tend to every last detail—all while maintaining your budget and personal style.

Yesterday’s greeting cards can become tomorrow’s heirloom ornaments, with a bit of glue and glitter. DECEMBER 2014


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we love | simply

TIP Place cards don’t need to go hand in hand with a seating chart. You can arrange the cards on a side table and allow guests to find their cards and sit where they like. It is a thoughtful and beautiful way to help your guests get acquainted.

Menu The moments leading up to dinner service can be difficult for the hostess. It is hard to entertain while still making sure everything in the kitchen is moving according to schedule. Having something small at the table to entertain guests is a nice way to transition into the service. Find holiday images or old cards, ensuring the back side is blank. Print your menu, your name and the date on the back of each card, and place one at each guest’s table setting. It is a great conversation starter for your guests as well as a thoughtful takeaway memento.

Party Favors Party favors are not just for birthdays and weddings—they are special tokens that let your guests know how much

Old greeting cards serve double duty as beautiful cone-shaped ornaments and thoughtful party favors. Make a bunch and fill your tree, so that even unexpected guests will have a special little something to take home.

A menu placed on each table setting gives your guests something to do while you are tending to the lastminute preparations in the kitchen. Reading the card makes for interesting predinner conversation—and you don’t have to leave the kitchen to entertain.

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DECK THE WALLS Repositionable wallpaper makes it easy to create your own winter wonderland THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL; why not make your wallpaper delightful? Take your favorite wintry scene and turn your home into a cozy escape. Our Easy-Up wallpaper is completely customizable, making YOUR space unique to YOU. Upload your image and create wallpaper using your own photos and designs. Even the most novice wallscaper can become a master of their home dĂŠcor, so deck the walls this year with! From now through December 31st use code ROMANTICHOMES for 50% off your first order on

Repositionable wallpaper makes redecorating quick and easy.

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you appreciate them. One of the easiest ways to make holiday party favors is to make your ornaments do double duty. Create paper cones out of last year’s Christmas cards, and then add ribbon handles, old buttons and delicate floral trimmings. Hang them on the tree, filling them with small treats and tiny gifts. The tree will look amazing, and your guests can help themselves to the tiny treat-filled bundles.

Greeting Cards The holidays are an expensive time of year, and greeting cards only add to the expense. This year, make personalized cards using only a box of envelopes and items you already have. Upcycle old cards, leftover scrapbooking papers and bits of lace and trim to fashion personalized, one-of-akind greeting cards for the special people on your list.

TIP Purchase the envelopes first so you will know what size to make your cards.

Hostess Gift Holiday parties and open houses are in full swing all through the days leading up to Christmas, which means filling the gift closet with loads of hostess gifts can become expensive in a hurry. Create a few quick, easy and inexpensive gifts by upcycling old glass bottles. Simply cut a small image off a vintage greeting card and glue it onto the face of a bottle. Wrap a piece of florist wire

Having a place card for each guest adds an extra little touch to help everyone feel welcome.

Instead of sending an e-vite, how about making real invitations? It doesn’t have to be expensive or take a great deal of time. Paper invitations set the tone for a splendid event.



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around the neck and fashion a handle; then embellish the bottle with berries, beads or greenery. Make several at a time, and you will never enter a party emptyhanded again!

Gift Tags So much thought and effort goes into the purchasing and wrapping of every gift that it seems a shame to use a tiny stick-on gift tag. Instead, purchase a bundle of manila shipping tags and embellish them with images from old cards. The gift tags are no longer an afterthought, and they are large enough to write a personal message on the back. They can be added to gift bags, packages and wine bottles.

Ornaments This is the easiest way to upcycle favorite holiday greeting cards from years past. Simply glue the card to a piece of mat board or thin foam core. Trim the edges using narrow tinsel or glitter. Punch a hole in the top and use a loop of ribbon as a hanger.

Handmade greeting cards are fun to make, rewarding to give and special to receive. They are stylish and inexpensive ways to recycle, while making amazing, sentimental treasures for friends and family. These precious works of art can even be framed as holiday dĂŠcor!



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we love | make it

Add a little personality to your holiday décor with these simple projects that are sure to bring plenty of joy.


Add rustic charm with a DIY star made from pallet wood and a few screws.

Take it outside! Instead of hanging the usual wreath, wrap a DIY star with white lights and hang it on your front door or windows.

SOMETIMES THE SIMPLEST PROJECTS make the biggest impression. This little star—which only takes minutes to complete—is one of those projects. As soon as it was complete, I knew it would look fabulous with a few strings of lights and some greenery—and that it would end up the “star” of our holiday décor.



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Now it’s time to connect them. First, use a screw to connect the corner of slat #1 to slat #3 (see image 5); then #2 to #1. Then attach #4 to #1, not in the corner but where #4 overlaps #1. Next, connect the corner of #4 to #2, then #5 to #4.

1. Lay your 5 pallet slats in the shape of


• 5 pallet slats of the same length and width

• 7-1 ⁄ ” screws • Cordless drill 1


a star (see images 1–4). There will be a bit of a gap where the tip of #3 and #5 will be attached, but it’s nothing a little muscle can’t overcome when it comes time to screw that corner together.

Finally, you’ll screw #5 into #3. I used a little extra pressure on the slat with my foot while screwing it in from the front, and to give it extra security, I added an additional screw from the back side as well.

DIY Wood Pallet Projects: 35 Rustic Modern Upcycling Ideas to Personalize Your Space by Karah Bunde, published by F+W Media, ©2014;






TIP: This project can easily be taken

apart to store throughout the year. Remove the screws and put them in a resealable bag, and then cluster the slats with a rubber band and bag everything together. It will all fit easily into the corner of a closet or attic. DECEMBER 2014


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we love | make it


Bring some nostalgia to your décor with motifs reminiscent of toy catalogs.



• Old toy catalog illustrations (templates included, page 90) • Old book (paperback or hardcover) • White glue and glue stick • Glass glitter in a variety of colors • Binder hole reinforcement labels • Craft paper scraps • 1 yard of ribbon, ¼ inch wide • Baker’s twine in red and white Tools • Color photocopier (or scanner and printer) • Straight pin and toothpick • Hole punch Instructions


Copy or scan the template images, enlarging them as needed to fit your book pages. Gently tear or cut pages out of the old book and load them into the paper slot of your copier. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to print the template images onto your book pages. Print each illustration twice to make an 8-foot garland.

Add color and sparkle to other parts of the illustration. Dab glue in the places where you want extra embellishment and dust them with colored glitter. Let the illustration dry flat.


Put the binder-hole reinforcement labels on a scrap of craft paper. Cut the paper around each label into small rectangles measuring about ¾” x 1”. Glue each piece into place at the top center of each glittered page. Use a hole punch to make a hole through the paper.

7. Thread a 5-inch piece of ribbon through the hanging hole and knot it. Knot the ribbon over a double run of baker’s twine to make your garland. The ribbon can be knotted loosely as shown or, if you don’t want your garland pages to move, cinch it tightly. Note: The addition of glue and glitter to the pages can make them curl. This is easily fixed by rolling the pages in the opposite direction from the curl and pinning them with clothespins. The curl should relax within an hour or so.


Use a straight pin or toothpick to outline parts of each letter in the Christmas greeting with glue. Draw a fine line of glue down one side of each letter as shown. Do as many letters as you can before the glue loses its tack.


Sprinkle the glitter over the glue. Dump excess glitter onto a piece of paper with a crease down the middle. The crease will make it easy to funnel the leftover glitter back into its container for later use.


Each letter should now have a “drop shadow” of glitter. Add more glue lines opposite the shadow as highlights. Sprinkle silver glitter over the letters and shake off the excess.



Artful Christmas: 30 Elegant Craft Projects by Susan Wasinger, published by Lark Crafts, ©2014;

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we love | my home

A Country French Apartment—at Christmas “Normally I shop after Christmas, buying decorations that will coordinate with my theme and style. I always stay with specific colors so that items will blend well.” I CALL THIS BEDROOM,“Shakespeare Country,” as I have “Shakespeare Country” dishes displayed throughout the room. My inspiration for the décor was imagining a writer renting a boarding-house bedroom from the 1600s. I am, and always have been, an imaginative person. My mother was always asking why I couldn’t keep it simple, but I just cannot! Whenever I decorate a room or a party for my friends, I want them to feel like they are involved in another place or time, or enraptured in a particular feeling. HEILDA CHIPMAN Submitted via email

Call for Entries Readers: Send us your unusual and upbeat home-related stories and photos! Email or visit to send a message. Please write “My Home submission” in the subject line.

we love | love this!


Your Wings

FOR THE ROMANTIC ANGEL, these handcrafted wings will certainly beautify any spot. Being good never looked so pretty.

Lace angel wings, $12 to $16. Visit



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we love | sweet

wintermintCAKE Baked NYC shares their perfect winter cake—starring a subtle hint of peppermint. Yield: One 8-inch three-layer cake Serves 10 to 12

For the peppermint chocolate ganache

• 6 ounces dark chocolate (60–72%

Ingredients: For the classic chocolate cake

• ½ cup unsweetened dark cocoa

• • • • • • • • • • • •

powder, plus ¼ cup unsweetened black cocoa powder (or just ¾ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder) 1¼ cups hot water ⅔ cup sour cream 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon kosher salt 6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pans ½ cup unflavored vegetable shortening 1 ½ cups granulated sugar 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 3 large eggs, at room temperature 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the peppermint buttercream

• 1½ cups granulated sugar • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour • 1½ cups whole milk • ⅓ cup heavy cream • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, • •

soft but cool, cut into ½-inch cubes 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract




• • •

cacao), coarsely chopped ½ cup heavy cream 1 tablespoon crème de menthe (optional) ½ teaspoon pure peppermint extract

For the assembly

• Food dye or gel Directions: Make the classic chocolate cake


Preheat the oven to 325°F.


Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust with flour and discard the excess.


In a small bowl, mix the cocoa powder, hot water and sour cream together. Set aside to cool.

4. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. 5.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until light and smooth, about 5 minutes. (The mixture will appear to string or ribbon throughout the bowl.)


Add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each until incorporated; then add the vanilla and beat together. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.


Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating to incorporate after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and beat for a few more seconds.


Divide the batter among the three prepared pans (about 1¼ pounds of batter per pan). Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.


Transfer the cakes to a wire rack, and let them cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.

Make the peppermint buttercream


In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream, and cook over medium

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At Baked, our tribute to winter is the stately Wintermint Cake. It is rich and moist (but not too moist), and it stands up beautifully to the light peppermint buttercream and mint ganache. It is winter exemplified, a cake tailor-made for snowy backdrops and January birthdays.

Note: We decorate this cake using an ombrÊ technique, but obviously you can cover the whole thing in just our elegant, off-white peppermint buttercream—it still looks beautiful. DECEMBER 2014


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we love | sweet heat, whisking constantly but gently, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 8 to 12 minutes.


Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool, at least 7 to 9 minutes.


Reduce the speed to low, and add the butter a few cubes at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all of the butter is thoroughly incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.


Add the vanilla and peppermint extracts, mixing until combined. TIP: Frosting too soft? Put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly; then beat the frosting. Frosting too firm? Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat the frosting with a wooden spoon.

Make the peppermint chocolate ganache

1. Place the chocolate in a mediumsized heatproof bowl and set aside. 2.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream just to a boil. Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over the chocolate.


Let the cream sit for 2 to 4 minutes. Then starting in the center of the bowl and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate-and-cream mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk for another few minutes to release the excess heat from the mixture.

4. Stir in the crème de menthe, if using it, and the peppermint extract. Let the ganache come to room temperature, whisking a bit, about 15 minutes.



Assemble the cake

1. Place one cake layer on a serving

and just slightly over the top of the cake.

platter or cake turntable, and trim to create a flat top surface.


2. Use an offset spatula to spread about ¼ cup of the mint chocolate ganache on the top (not sides) of the layer. Put the cake in the refrigerator to set the ganache for a few minutes. 3. After chilling, spread approximately 1¼ cups of the peppermint buttercream on top of the ganache. Top with the next cake layer and repeat. 4. Add the third layer and trim the top. Spread a very thin layer of peppermint buttercream (known as crumb coating) over the sides and top of the cake, and put it in the refrigerator to firm up for about 15 minutes.

5. To frost the cake ombré style, distribute the remaining frosting into three separate bowls, putting about ¼ cup more frosting in one bowl than in the other two. Add a few drops of food dye to each bowl and mix to create three shades of pink, with the lightest shade having slightly more frosting. 6. Starting with the bottom of the

Using the same offset spatula, start from the bottom and dimple the cake in even rows up the sides of the cake.

11. Finally, once all of the dimples have been applied to the sides of the cake, spread the remaining light pink frosting over the top of the cake and continue the dimpling process in toward the center. Note: To frost the cake more conventionally, follow the instructions in steps 1–4 and apply the crumb coat. Then frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining buttercream, and refrigerate for about 15 minutes to firm the entire cake. How to store

This cake will keep beautifully in a cake saver at room temperature for up to 3 days, as long as the weather is cool and humidity-free. Otherwise, place it in a cake saver and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Let the chilled cake sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

cake, apply a band of the dark pink frosting up one-third of the cake and all the way around.

7. Wipe the spatula before applying an equal band of medium pink frosting above the dark pink frosting.


Apply an equal band of light pink frosting above the medium pink band, bringing it all the way up to the top edge of the cake.


Immediately use an offset spatula to smooth the bands together, bringing some of the light pink frosting up

Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, ©2014;

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we love | say ahh

a nostalgic




A photographer/designer strikes a festive balance between traditional and modern customs—all with European style.

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CHRISTMAS RINGS WITH TRADITION. It tells a story of the past, present and the anticipation of what’s yet to come. Holiday time in the home of Ewa Szymczak, her husband, Marek, and their three children from Żyrardów, Poland, is an awakening of all five senses to the true meaning of a traditional Christmas. According to Ewa, Christmas in Poland is rich in tradition, and the majority of people do not start celebrating until Christmas Eve day. Ewa, a professional photographer and stylist, begins her holiday preparations just a few days before Christmas. She cleans the house from top to bottom, wraps gifts beautifully in rustic elegance and plans the Christmas Eve supper to perfection, from the first to the very last sumptuous morsel. The nostalgia of old Christmas, with glimpses of new treasures, is proudly displayed throughout Ewa’s home. Ewa is a perfectionist, with every nook and cranny of her home finely tuned. On Christmas Eve, everyone puts on festive clothes, and the family is seated at a large table with a menu consisting of 12 traditional meatless dishes and desserts. The meal can last up to two hours and is followed by games and a happy evening of gift giving.

Dear to the family’s heart is the tree—which is usually brought in and trimmed a few days before Christmas.

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we love | say ahh “Our home reminds me of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life,” says Ewa. “My daughter [plays] the piano while we sing Christmas carols, decorate the tree and bake cookies.” Ewa enjoys the artistry of making her own decorations for the holidays but also finds store-bought treasures in Denmark. “I’ve been there several times, and I always come back with lots of inspiration,” says Ewa. “I love finding wonderful antiques and bringing them home to decorate with and photograph.”



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Specializing in:

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Ewa’s home is the picture of charm and tradition.

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Taking pictures has become a passion and a driving force in Ewa’s life. “I love to look at beautiful things, styling them to show them as I see them—and Christmas time is the perfect backdrop for my creative vision,” says Ewa. The home is decorated in a traditional red color scheme with natural materials like twigs and sticks of cinnamon to dress up the table, doors and windows. The family’s tree is decorated with food, such as apples and gingerbread, as well as handmade and nature-inspired items like wooden animals and toy soldiers. Ewa grew up with strong family rituals, but in her own home she likes to balance tradition with modern customs for a sense of surprise.

For more on Ewa, visit or



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we love | ta da

Party This Christmas, a party staple gets a seasonal update with colorful accents, tasty drinks and easy garnishes.




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GATHER ROUND THE PUNCH BOWL! Eggnog at Christmas is just one of the refreshments that make punch bowls a pivotal part of any celebration. Spiked or not, eggnog variations abound for festive libations. Here are tips for creating party drinks that demonstrate the decorative versatility of punch bowls.

EGGNOG PUNCH This antique, pressed-glass punch bowl sits on a matching pedestal base. It is rare to find a bowl with its matching cups, but this heirloom belonged to a friend whose mother was the original owner. The large silver tray and Art Nouveau ladle were inexpensive flea-market finds. Eggnog looks especially festive in an antique glass punch bowl. Here is Diane’s go-to recipe for the seasonal favorite.

HOLIDAY EGGNOG PREPARATION TIME: 1 hour MAKES 32, ½ cup servings NOTE: Make 4–5 hours before serving, as the punch needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. INGREDIENTS • 12 large eggs • 1 ½ cups of sugar • ½ teaspoon salt • 2 quarts whole milk • 1 cup brandy (optional) • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (plus extra for garnish) • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream

TIP: Purchase an extra cup of heavy whipping cream to garnish the punch bowl.


1. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, beat the eggs,

Show off pressed glass by layering your punch bowl on top of silver. A silver tray will reflect light and make the antique glass glisten even more.

sugar and salt with a wire whisk until they are well blended. 2. Slowly stir in 1 quart of whole milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 25 minutes). The mixture should be about 175°F. Do not boil the mixture, or it will curdle. 3. Pour the custard mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract, ground nutmeg, brandy (optional) and the remaining quart of whole milk. 4. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. 5. When ready to serve, beat the heavy or whipping cream in a small bowl with a mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. 6. Use a wire whisk to gently fold the whipped cream into the custard mixture. 7. Pour the eggnog mixture into a chilled bowl and enjoy!

TIP: Add dollops of whipped cream to the punch bowl along with a little extra nutmeg for garnish.



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we love | ta da APPLE CIDER There is no complex recipe needed here! Simply purchase your favorite apple cider, apples, cinnamon sticks and star anise. Pour the apple cider into the punch bowl and add the other ingredients. Just before serving, place a small star cut from an apple slice on the rim of each glass.

Rustic groupings of greenery, pinecones and pomegranates add unexpected texture that beautifully contrasts with the gleaming silver punch bowl.

GARNISH WITH STYLE Just before serving, add a little something extra to your apple cider. INGREDIENTS Dropping star anise and cinnamon sticks into the bowl is easy and festive, and so is creating these sweet apple garnishes.

1. Cut thin horizontal slices of red or green apples. 2. Using a small, star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out the center of each slice. Add the slices to the punch bowl. 3. Save the small cutout stars to garnish the rims of the glasses. When serving, gently press the stars into place. TIP: Sprinkle just a bit of lemon juice on the apples to keep them from turning brown.



The punch bowl and under plate set, an Art Nouveau design, was an eBay purchase.

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SANTA PUNCH BOWL The ceramic Santa Claus punch bowl, which hails from the 1950s, is perfect for serving fruit punch at a children’s party. You can find similar retro pieces through eBay and in antiques shops or flea markets. TIP: I added sliced oranges and fresh raspberries to the punch for more color and flavor. It is served in a vintage soda fountain glass and finished with a festive holiday straw.

Contributing editor Diane Sedo, is co-author of Taking Tea with Alice (1997 Warner Books, 2007 Benjamin Press) and is a certified instructor of Dorothea Johnson’s Tea & Etiquette program (Elmwood Inn Fine Teas). Follow Diane’s Facebook page Sentimental Celebrations.



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Dear Santa,

Here Are Our Wish Lists!

Take a peek at what the editorial team at Romantic Homes is hoping to see under their trees—and get a little inspiration for your own holiday shopping.

C R E AT I V E D I R E C T O R / E D I T O R

The room that gets most of my time is the kitchen. Everything revolves around food, preparation and entertaining. This year, I look to pieces that will heighten our family’s experience, while making life delicious.



1. Peony plates, set of 4, $99. (612) 338-9100 or




2. Measuring cups, $14 per set. Visit


3 Chowder bowl, $9.99 each. (800) 452-4462 or 4. Soy cocotte fill, $29.95. Visit 5. Farmhouse pottery board, $8. Visit 6. Aqua wastebasket, $49.99. (360) 297-3030 or









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7. Pamela turquoise placemat, $12.50 each. (949) 633-1080 or


9. Cheese knives, $40. (866) 312-5610 or 10. New Global Kitchen aluminum espresso maker, $13.99. (800) 591-3869 or 11. Set of 6 blue jars, $12.99. Visit 12. Chambray towel, $15. (800) 472-1885 or


14. Honeypot with bee spoon, $44. (626) 264-8686 or


15. Basket bag, $36.50. (800) 504-4656 or




13. Blue bag, prices for wholesale. (800) 766-6049 or



8. Lotta Spot side plate, $13. Dinner plate, $18. (347) 725-4339 or






15 DECEMBER 2014


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This year has been all about hunting for my forever home. So while I scrimp and save and pray to end up at the place we’re meant to be, I wish to remind myself that small things are special too. A splurge or two is worth it for pieces you’ll love forever. These items on my list have a certain quality that makes you smile, feel good and be happy no matter where you are.









1. Hex champagne bucket by Tom Dixon in rose gold, $235. (877) 404-6763 or


2. Vintage-style quart mason jar, $15.99. (888) 766-7925 or

4. Kate Spade gold-dot or gold-stripe file folders, set of 6, $16. Visit 5. Rabbit wine stopper, $18. (888) 686-8586 or 6. Liz Caan large brushstroke bowl, $200. (617) 422-0787 or





3. Cedar-scented candle, $45. Visit


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The winter holiday season is a time of great festivity and



1. Versailles fragrance candle, $44.91; also Versailles reed diffuser, $44.91. Visit


2. Vintage store-display lighted cones, 3 sizes: small 24" X 8", $37.50; medium 32" X 10", $49.50; large 40" X 12", $61.50. (239) 579-0409 or 3. Chantilly Chandelier, 5-light chandelier with cream-colored porcelain roses, $515. Visit 4. Vintage marquee lights, 12", 24" or 36" tall X 4" deep and equipped with a hanging bracket. Starting at $159. Visit 5. Vintage metal wall tree with candle votives, $60.14. Visit




celebration, but in the northern hemisphere it is also a time of low light, with the shortest day of the year—the winter solstice—falling in the third week of December. The holiday observances of various religions all involve displays of lights this time of year, and each day leading up to the solstice has less daylight than the day before. To build up glow and luminescence all around, my wish list is full of illumination and sources of light. Throughout the season, I cherish every opportunity to delight in light in its many forms, and my hope is to brighten the lives of my family, friends and guests with these bits of luster and radiance.

6. Kerosene lanterns, available in 5 baked-on lacquer colors and natural tin, $39.95. Visit



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Despite stunning style and earthy hues, all of my wish list





items have an ethical mission that goes beyond their aesthetic values. 31 Bits, Joyn and Apolis create educational and trade opportunities that empower people around the world to break the cycle of poverty. Through Mission Lazarus, a leather bag helps fund an orphanage as well as support vocational schools and agricultural programs in Honduras. Claro candles fund tangible aid for social justice issues, Help Ink lets you choose which cause each purchase supports and 58 Republic fights global poverty and hunger by donating chickens. Pretty things that do good? Yes, please.


1. Lariat necklace, $68. Visit


2. Los Angeles market bag, $68. Visit 3. Cecilia tote in chocolate, $140. Visit



4. Paisley table runner, $24. Visit 5. “Bee Kind” giclee art print, 12” x 16”, $20. Visit 6. “State of Love – California” art print, 24” x 18”, $84. Visit 7. “Water” 16-ounce soy candle, $25. Visit









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Whether or not aromatherapy has a medicinal effect, it is definitely therapeutic for the senses. When everything around


you smells as beautiful as these products, how could it not affect your perception for the better? It might even make your day! This year I’m wishing for products that will indulge the olfactory system with relaxing aromas.









1. Rose hydrosol, $8.25 to $18.75. Visit 2. Sketchbook ceramic candle, $22. Visit 3. Extra pur bar soap set, $20. Visit 4. Pink Sands scented potpourri, $12.99. (877) 8036890 or 5. Tisty Tosty bath bomb, $6.35. Visit



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Traditions old and new abound in this elegant, country-style home during the holiday season. BY HANNA SAARIO AND E.S. RO P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y K R I S TA K E LTA N E N

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hristmas is

celebrated the traditional way in Tuire Petroff’s rose-colored home in Finland: the Christmas tree is not brought in until just before Christmas Eve, and the festivities continue well into Epiphany so as to make the most of the season. Although Christmas tree decorating is delayed until the last minute, other preparations begin ahead of time. As a mother of two, Tuire harbors a wealth of ideas to make the Advent season exciting for her children, such as Advent calendars and cones embellished with the boys’ names that she fills with surprises. This year, she also customized “Santa’s Little Helper” hats. “At the boys’ kindergarten, the children wear these red hats throughout December. At least theirs with embroidered pictures and names won’t get mixed up with the others,” Tuire explained.

Chill Out and Warm Up Cold weather doesn’t deter Tuire from using the wood and iron outdoor patio furniture all year round. A few blankets are added for extra warmth during the snowy winter months. Decked with fir garlands and glowing lanterns, the home’s façade is a beautiful sight for the family to enjoy as well as any passersby. Out on the patio, Tuire has a custom of arranging glögg, or mulled wine, parties—much to the delight of her friends and neighbors. Light apple juice mulled wine is spiced with star anise, cinnamon sticks and cashew nuts.

Opposite: Cookies aren’t just for eating. Hang them on a garland or build a gingerbread house for a tasteful display.




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Tuire makes decorating a family affair—with her sons helping adorn the tree in the living room.

The living room, characterized by soft textural and romantic visual elements, is enhanced by the seasonal Christmas tree.



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Recipe for

APPLE GLÖGG This nonalcoholic version of a traditional Swedish yuletide wine is sure to warm you up this winter. INGREDIENTS: • 1 liter fresh apple juice • 3 star anises • 1 cinnamon stick • Pistachios • Salted cashew nuts

HOW TO PREPARE: 1. Heat the juice, star anise and cinnamon until simmering. Use whole rather than ground spices to keep the drink from becoming cloudy and gritty. 2. Remove from heat and let sit for half an hour to infuse the flavors. 3. Reheat; then strain into glasses. Serve with pistachios and cashew nuts. Enjoy!

Left: Enjoying this warm apple-cider-like drink is a holiday tradition.



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Every aspect of this home, from its gentle pink-and-white exterior to the sheepskin-covered chairs on the front porch, greets guests and passersby with a warm welcome.




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Fancy Fixings The kitchen reflects Tuire’s love for all things antique and her special fondness for rococo and Gustavian styles. The table is all set for Christmas Eve dinner with a mix of old and new, including blue-and-white china handed down through the generations and antique silverware found at local shops. Brought out only at Christmas and special occasions, this finery adds elegant finishing touches to the Christmas ambience throughout the house.



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GO GUSTAVIAN Guidelines for introducing this elegant 18th-century Swedish country style into your home. GILDED ACCESSORIES. Gustavian style was inspired and heavily influenced by the exquisite Louis XVI French neoclassical design. Gold accented mirrors, sconces and other elements instantly convey a rich tone. CHIPPY PAINT AND PATINA. White and grayed pastels are essential elements of Gustavian style. Give your tables or drawers a beautifully aged look with a distressed coat of paint. FABULOUS LIGHTING. Natural light reflects well off the neutral and pastel tones and brightens up the room, so pull back those curtains. Decorative chandeliers are also welcome. SIMPLE FABRICS. Linen, raw silk and cotton are especially popular. Patterns are used sparingly, and checks and gingham are generally the prints of choice.

Above: Creamy off-white furniture and silvery tableware epitomize Gustavian style.



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Neutral Beauty Whites and creamy grays dominate the home’s interior in typical Gustavian fashion, creating a light and dreamy atmosphere all around. Chippy paint and patina finishes make the scene less minimalist modern and more relaxed romantic. Fresh flowers and greens add a healthy dose of color.

Delicate lace curtains and the ornate gold candleholder add unexpected elegance to an otherwise simple space.

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Top left: Bright and open, Tuire’s home offers plenty of room for her sons to imagine and play.

Left: Even the hall gets a sweet dose of Christmas décor.




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Personal flair is added to a house by keeping things in the family.

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hen Dorine

Engelen, the owner of Ambiente Decoraties & Brocante, realized her childhood home was on the verge of no longer being in the family, she decided to change its fate. Dorine, her husband, Stefan, and their two daughters moved in—and made it their own. They coated it with crisp white paint and filled it with an influx of vintage furniture, bringing a breath of fresh air into the home.

When Dorine was born her parents lived in half of a 1930s semi-detached townhouse. As the family added four more children, her parents decided to buy the house next door and turn the two properties into one large family home. Years later when the children moved on, Dorine’s parents separated the two halves and moved into the half that is now Dorine’s home. In 2001, Dorine’s father passed away. Her mother didn’t want to live in the house alone and moved into an apartment. It was then that Dorine decided, in agreement with the rest of the family, to move into the house where she had grown up. “It was either that or sell it, and I couldn’t imagine the house not being in our family. I loved it, and knew it would be a great place to raise my children,” she says.

The house was in good structural condition, but Dorine chose to update the kitchen and bathroom. She also needed to adjust the interior to suit the soft, pastel colors and shabby romantic style she loves—a style that dominates in her shop too.

Above: Clean lines on a gray couch may sound too modern for a romantic design, but the soft upholstery and cozy cushions make this sofa a perfectly classic seating area. Set against a genuine brick wall painted in Roos from L’Authentique Paints & Interior, the combination offers beautiful contrast to the 1880s farmhouse stone floor. Just visible behind one of the trees is a piece of parchment with The Lord’s Prayer written in French. “Yes, if you know how to look, it’s amazing what you can pick up at a flea market,” Dorine says.




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“I wanted to create a home that was authentic, welcoming and light.”

Opposite: Brimming with bows and ornaments, Camille’s tree takes on a unique look each year. This year jewel tones are featured.



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The ground floor of the house consists of a front entrance with stairs leading to the upper floor, a cozy living room and a spacious kitchen. French windows at the rear of the house offer a view of the large garden and, at the back, the garden house. Dorine was very specific about quality when selecting the products for her kitchen remodel. She picked out a simple white kitchen with a solid granite worktop. When it came to painting the kitchen walls, she used a structured paint that creates a professional-quality concrete look. The same eye for quality can be seen in the stone floor in the kitchen. Her parents had found the stone in an 1880s farmhouse and added it when they lived in the home. Dorine adds a personal touch to the kitchen by displaying her collection of flea-market finds, including a silver sugar bowl, milk jug and an antique condiments set, as well as the elaborate Italian serving trays that originally belonged to her mother. A new bathroom was the only other significant renovation in the house. Stefan and Dorine chose to have this work done by professionals. The other work on the home only required painting and decorating, which they did themselves. “We didn’t want to change things unnecessarily,” Dorine says. “The house has a truly genuine atmosphere, which is important.”

Opposite: The dining table is laid out in expectation of guests coming for a festive meal. Dorine sets the table with a mix of vintage china and serveware, all in white. Metallic accents bring in a special holiday gleam—like the copper candlesticks that were originally used in an old Catholic church.

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The white dresser in the living room was found at a flea market. The paint is peeling here and there, but Dorine likes the weathered effect and decided not to restore it. The items on the shelves above were all found at various yard sales, yet they go together perfectly. Dorine calls this her version of country style.

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When it comes to the design of her home, Dorine listens to her heart. She has great passion for creating an inviting and beautiful space, something that is easily seen both in her home and her shop. Almost everything in Dorine’s shop starts its life in her home. “When I find a new piece, I have to have it around me for a while. Only when it is replaced by the next purchase is it put on sale in the shop,” she says. Dorine believes that furniture should emanate coziness and warmth, and she strives to make that happen in her home and shop. Whenever possible, she says wood furniture should be left untouched, although when necessary she will varnish or repaint it.

Throughout the house, the warmth and joy of Christmas is brought to life by décor, lighting and the welcoming atmosphere that prevails. The mini Christmas trees strategically placed here and there turn the house into a true winter wonderland. Rather than using valuable real estate needed for family gatherings, Dorine displays several small trees around the

Top Right: Against the sidewall of the living room, Dorine found a clever use for an old cake rack—as a magazine holder.



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RUSTIC ROMANTIC CHRISTMAS 6 tips for recreating Dorine’s style this holiday season USE A FRESH PALETTE. Dorine’s neutral wall colors are the perfect backdrop for subtle hints of a pastel celebration. Pink, turquoise, blue and lavender are delicately featured alongside shades of white and warm wood tones. ADD GREENERY. Floral arrangements and evergreen boughs bring fresh scents as well as enliven the holiday spirit. Add a wreath or vase to every room for a house filled with natural cheer. Mix metallic finishes. Tarnished tin decorations from Christmases past, bronze candlesticks, gold bulbs, silver mercury glass and pewter trays add aged beauty to a crisp palette. LAYER ACCENTS. Groupings of vintage finds and holiday décor make a bolder statement when featured together on tabletops. Begin with your largest item, such as a short potted tree, and gradually add smaller accents until the look is just right. Don’t forget to leave a bit of breathing room so that you can truly enjoy each piece. FEATURE FAMILY HEIRLOOMS. From childhood photos on the tree to Grandma’s china on the table, make the celebration personal with pieces of your family’s past. SOFT LIGHTING. Twinkling lights can be added to more than just the tree. Wrap garland with lights and drape the combination down stair rails or around doorframes; frame mirrors with simple white bulbs also. Add white tapers and tea lights throughout. BRING IN NATURE. Twigs and garden-inspired accents give a rustic ambiance to a silver-and-white celebration. Add texture with dried lavender bunches, woven baskets and urns used as vases.




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The master bedroom features a chandelier from Dorine’s shop as well as worn French shutters, which lean against the wall for added texture.



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ground floor of the house. “I like to put a few small trees at different spots in the house, like this one and the two in the window above the bench,” she says. All are decorated with silver and white bulbs, mostly vintage, as well as old photographs and dried gypsophila rosettes. For Dorine, her husband and her family, Christmas is the time for all to come together and celebrate each other. Gathered around the fire they share their gifts, and later, around the Christmas table, they enjoy delicious food, served on delightful white dinnerware at an old English foldable table. “Everyone is immediately relaxed when they come here—especially my siblings who, like me, are happy that the house is still in the family.” SEE SHOPPING GUIDE, PAGE 94.

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CHRISTMAS A French country-style home shines with vintage charm for the holidays.


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hristmas is when family

stops everything and turns inward. It’s when we cozy up at home, gather with family and friends, and set about creating good memories,” says homeowner and blogger Christen Bensten, who lives with her husband, Brent, and their three young children, ranging in age from four to seven, in Arlington, Virginia.

Above: The front door is adorned in garlands, topiaries and wreaths. Christen trimmed her wreaths with bells and birds.




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Picking out the Christmas tree is a family affair, as is the decorating process.

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Opposite: The family room is accented with red velvet pillows. The tall Christmas tree presides in its customary corner.

Top right: Vintage numbered cubes on an old scale mark the countdown to Christmas.

Above: The tree is adorned in plaid ribbon, felt angels, ornaments made by the children and more.




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Though Christen’s house is a new construction, her passion is decorating it in a vintage-inspired DIY French country style. She paints her furniture (often thrift store or yard sale finds) with chalk paint, perks up her neutral palette with robin’s egg blue and adds character through old-timey accents, which she collects. Christen loves to “fiddle around” in her home year round, but the holiday season is extra special. “Christmas is so exciting for me because I get to see it through the eyes of my children,” says Christen. “Everything is new for them, and there’s still that magic about Christmas. Santa is coming down the chimney!” The Bensten family’s holiday tradition begins with piling all the kids in the car and going to a local tree farm to select and cut down their Christmas tree. “I always want the prettiest one, and my husband wants the tallest one,” says Christen. “The kids get to vote. It becomes a fun family debate!” She continues, “We bring it back on top of the car. When we get home, Brent saws the bottom off, and all of a sudden our house fills up with this beautiful fresh smell.”

Top left: Chicken wire trays with jam-jar drinking glasses are always ready to go.

Opposite: No room is without a reminder of the season. From sleds to pine trees, the dining room is decked out in vintage European décor.



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Next stop is the basement where Christen brings up big boxes of Christmas decorations for trimming the tree. First, she wraps the tree in a long burlap ribbon (here green-andred plaid), and then her husband decks it from head to toe in twinkling white lights. Lastly, the kids take out the ornaments one by one and hang them. Christen favors “anything that is charming, homespun and vintage.” Felt angels, little cardinals and gold snowflakes are just a few such ornaments. When the children are asleep, Mrs. Santa tiptoes around filling in any gaps.

Opposite: For the party, the eat-in dining table is decked with gold ornaments in an iron container, as well as with burlap deer, pinecones and fresh green snippets from the tree.

ON CASUAL HOLIDAY PARTIES “I like to do casual buffet-style entertaining over the holidays. It allows people to gather in little pockets throughout the home, catch up on news and converse in every corner of the house,” says Christen. It also gives Christen a chance to create seasonal vignettes everywhere. 1. Pile scented pinecones in dough bowls. 2. Stack vintage suitcases to create tiers for food dishes and platters. 3. Fill mason jars with cranberries and votives. 4. Use fairy lights everywhere: in the tree, across mantles and on tables. 5. Lay stockings on the backs of benches or sofas. 6. Encase topiary pots in burlap bags. 7. Leave holiday messages on chalkboards. 8. Mix fresh and faux greens. 9. Use vintage Christmas toys as part of your décor.




RH-1412-70-79-HT3_Bernsten_2 10/14/14 1:13 AM Page 78

Above: The large kitchen counter holds a stone urn filled with cones, berries and candles.

Left: Red, white and green striped stockings are draped over a bench, while vintage suitcases are tucked beneath.



RH-1412-70-79-HT3_Bernsten_2 10/14/14 1:13 AM Page 79

“Just because it’s Christmas, however, doesn’t mean I have to abandon my vintage European decorating style,” says Christen, “so along the way, I incorporate things like olive crates, as well as family heirlooms, like my grandmother’s old toy sled.” Before long, the Bensten home becomes a veritable wonderland of topiaries and cranberries, fairy lights and berry beads, red and green cloth-covered books, chicken wire trays, old mason jars, burlap deer and a mixture of woodland creatures nestled on surfaces all around. “I just like to add these things to the more traditional holiday greens,” she says. “I also want every room to have its own special treatment.” The foyer maintains a connection to the outdoors, with a faux fur whitening its round table, as well as a tall centerpiece filled with red books and berried twigs, while the family room becomes enlivened with a collection of vintage toys that come out only for the season. The kitchen, of course, is the place of sweet cinnamonscented pinecones and apothecary jars filled with candy canes. Even the master bedroom—always a placid, white retreat— gets green sprigs, jeweled berries and spider mums. In every room, there are white candles; many sit in mason jars accompanied by fresh cranberries. “By the time Christmas Eve comes round, we are ready,” says Christen. “We go to church and come home to a big pot of fondue. Then, we kick off our shoes and curl up on the couch, turning off the lights and reading the Christmas story, all warm and nestled in our cozy home.”

Bottom Right: Winter woodland creatures mix in with strings of red beads and books.




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christmas inspiration:

Farmhouse Style

Refresh your Christmas décor with inspiration from homeowners who transform their farmhouses into winter wonderlands. BY SARAH JANE O’KEEFE PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNIFER RIZZO


ennifer Rizzo’s Creatively

Christmas: Inspired Yuletide Décor will leave you feeling just that—inspired. As an artist, designer and the owner of Jennifer Rizzo Design Company, Rizzo knows creative style. Creatively Christmas is filled with clever décor ideas, tutorials, DIY gifts and stunning homes. Here are three of those homes, all farmhouses from Rizzo’s native Chicago area, that offer up timeless charm in the form of uniquely romantic Christmas décor.

French Farmhouse Denise Knickrehm’s initial reaction to the 1909 farmhouse she and her husband, Greg, now call home was to say it was a mess. As a contractor and carpenter, Greg was able to gut the interior and start anew. Denise, the owner of Denise’s Adornments, worked to update the interior with her signature style. “I love following the trends, but working the older elements back in. I won’t have anything in my home that isn’t in my shop and vice versa,” she says. Her approach is no different at Christmas time. “Every year I buy what I call a ‘Charlie Brown’ tree. It’s very airy, soft and open and doesn’t take up the entire room,” says Denise. She adorns the tree, as well as the rest of her home, with layers of neutral, French-inspired vintage accents. 80


Learn how to make this mail-bag door hanger in Rizzo’s book.

RH-1412-80-83-PAGES1-CX 10/16/14 5:42 AM Page 81

Get the look:

chic tree

Give an airy (or full) tree the chic treatment with three simple accents. • White berries • Vintage bead garland • White lights

Clapboard Farmhouse “I love the sparkle of my vintage ornament collection and enjoy making the house look pretty,” Jennifer Zuri says. She and her husband, Robert, own an 1875 farmhouse where, inspired by her childhood holidays, Jennifer crafts Christmas décor and celebrations that honor tradition. Not enough room on the tree for your collection of vintage ornaments? Instead of packing up the extra bulbs, give them a unique display. Jennifer uses an upside-down washbasin to elevate an ironstone bowl filled with vintage bulbs. Set it next to the tree or fireplace for a fun, holiday version of ordinary items.

Creatively Christmas: Inspired Yuletide Décor by Jennifer Rizzo, published by Plain Sight Publishing, ©2014;




RH-1412-80-83-PAGES1 10/14/14 1:15 AM Page 82

Get the look:

heirloom Christmas Bring home a little farmhouse style.



VINTAGE GLASS ORNAMENTS: From flea-market finds to passed-down treasures, sprinkle a bit of the past throughout your décor. WHITE IRONSTONE: Fill bowls with ornaments and pitchers with branches—the smooth finish and crisp color are the perfect farmhouse accent. GREENERY: Whether it’s traditional pine or fresh dogwood twigs, a little fresh greenery enlivens any room with scent and color. RED BERRIES: As a garland on the tree or as sprigs in an arrangement of pine branches, a little touch of lively color will increase the cheer of the season.

RH-1412-80-83-PAGES1-CX 10/16/14 5:42 AM Page 83

Prairie-Style Farmhouse When Traci Tessone and her fiancé purchased a 1922 farmhouse, they found themselves slowly restoring and updating the property to live up to the potential Traci saw in it. As an event planner and owner of Whimsy, a décor shop, Traci brings her professional eye for romantic style home for the holidays with unexpected elements, such as a stone fireplace from an architectural salvage shop, a blush-hued vintage chair and an antique bust. “With a romantic, glamorous, French-inspired style, Traci decorates for the holidays with the same approach she employed in restoring her home, using many of the things she not only carries in her store, but a few reproductions as well as authentic vintage pieces,” says Rizzo.

“I think most people forget about fresh flowers at Christmas—I love having roses in my home for the holidays ... they add a little romance in a small but wonderful way,” says Traci. “The best parts of Christmas, however, are the traditions that come with it,” says Rizzo. Creatively Christmas celebrates the traditions of handmade goodies and intricately adorned homes—a perfect read for this holiday season.




RH_1412_84 10/14/14 12:08 AM Page 84


)("'#&' %("'#&' !'""% (&'$  &'"






Find us on

Discover Casual Elegance with Personal Style.

RH_1412_85 10/14/14 12:09 AM Page 85

RH-1412-86-87-EntertainingCX 10/16/14 5:43 AM Page 86

Rustic Recreate this stunning table with just 6 simple elements!


RH-1412-86-87-EntertainingCX 10/16/14 5:43 AM Page 87

Add a little something extra to each place setting by placing a fresh baked holiday cookie on each plate and laying a fragrant cinnamon stick atop the cup. A LITTLE COUNTRY, A BIT FEMININE, a touch of tradition—this look has it all in the most divine way.

1. Gingham tablecloth. Refresh the look of your table with a rustic print. Gingham creates a country-chic feel without venturing too far into the territory of its not-sodistant cousin, plaid.

2. White dishes. Porcelain dinnerware as white as snow layers perfectly with the variety of table accents, while the delicate scalloped rim on these dishes allows them to stand alone beautifully.

3. Natural accents. Pine garland, cinnamon sticks, holly berries and pinecones bring the outdoors in. Create a table runner with pine branches, and add dimension by scattering a few pinecones down its length. Bundle cinnamon sticks with ribbon and set them within the boughs. 4. Mixed finishes. Sparkling glassware, vintage tin candleholders and wire baskets complete the rustic feel. To add an unexpected piece of serveware, fill a glass canister with cookies, fruit, nuts or other easy-tograb foods. 5. Music sheets. Rethink your placemats! Instead of heading for the linen cupboard, layer pages of sheet music beneath each place setting. Personalize the placemats by giving guests their favorite carol or writing their name with a metallic marker. 6. White lights. Whether it’s white tapers, tea lights, or string lights, make your dinner party environment sparkle with glistening light at all heights.

RH-1412-88-89-BHN 10/14/14 1:18 AM Page 88

be here now

MERRY and BRIGHT Bring the beauty of snow indoors with a white tree—without the chill of the frost. BY SARAH JANE O’KEEFE PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRET GUM

A white tree can be a stunning addition to holiday décor. It will instantly brighten any room. Its ornaments shine against the crisp backdrop, and when lit they sparkle like Santa’s village. Style your tree with ease by following these simple tips for a showstopper of a focal point.

1. Add Sparkle. When selecting which ornaments will grace the boughs of your white tree, be sure to look for sparkle. Whether you choose mercury-glass, high-gloss, mirrored or glittery ornaments, make certain they catch and reflect as much light as possible. Shimmering, sparkling ornaments will give the tree more of a presence, especially in a room with white walls.

2. Personal Touches. Add romantic flair and personal style with unexpected accents. Pearl garlands, paper flowers and feathers bring in just the right touch of whimsy, giving this tree a sweet personality. Color plays a big role too. Here, blue- and pink-hued ornaments are paired with orange accents for a look that celebrates a year-round romantic style and reinforces the lighthearted joy of the season.

3. Think Big. Even though large-scale ornaments are typically the first to be hung on any tree, this year save the littler bulbs for vase fillers and package toppers. Instead of combining miniature with oversized decorations, give your tree bold appeal by only layering larger ornaments. Each piece will be more easily appreciated, and the uniquely bold look will leave guests impressed.

4. Wrap It Up.

Complete the look with elegant presents that leave traditional giftwrap on store shelves. Rather than bring style to a halt at the base of your tree, wrap gifts in ways that complement your color palette. Pink, turquoise and purple can be made seasonally festive with layers of bright, sparkling ribbon as well as silver and gold accents.



RH-1412-88-89-BHN_CX 10/16/14 6:07 AM Page 89


Think outside the box!Wrap and adorn gifts and packages to complement the colors and style of your tree.


3. 4.

RH-1412-90-Makeit_cont 10/16/14 6:29 AM Page 90

we love | make it

Excerpted from Artful Christmas: 30 Elegant Craft Projects by Susan Wasinger

Use these templates to create a garland that brings back the sweet memories of simple toys.

To begin making the garland, scan this page and enlarge the templates to your desired size. Print out test pages on normal copy paper to ensure the designs will fit properly on your book pages. Once you have determined a suitable size, refer to page 22 for the complete instructions on how to craft your garland.



RH_1412_91-93 10/19/14 10:58 PM Page 91


MERCURY GLASS BIRD TEALIGHT HOLDER Add a sweet touch of glamour to your home with this jeweled mercury-glass tealight candleholder. Measures 4” L x 3” W x 4” H.

$10.99 plus shipping and handling*

MAGNOLIA HOLIDAY WREATH Impress your guests from the moment they arrive at your door with this elegant silk wreath. This seasonal accent features gold-leaf magnolia leaves, burgundy magnolia blossoms, pine springs and natural pine cones. Measures 26” W x 8” H x 26” Dia.

$280 plus shipping and handling*

RUSTIC WOVEN NESTING BASKETS These stylish, thickly-woven nesting baskets will keep your items organized beautifully. Made of cattail straw, they feature durable looped handles for easy transport. Use them anywhere to keep clutter at bay. Large: 19 1/2” x 14” x 10 3/4” high; medium: 17” x 12 1/8” x 9 1/8” high; small: 14 1/2” x 10 1/2” x 7 1/2” high.

$36.22 plus shipping & handling*

*For international destinations, please email us at or call us toll free at |800| 764.6278

RH_1412_91-93 10/19/14 10:58 PM Page 92

FARMHOUSE SANTA TABLE RUNNER This handpainted, white burlap table runner with red Santa silhouette has stitched and frayed edges that will give your holiday table a farmhouse feel. Measures 14” H x 60” W.

EIFFEL TOWER PORCELAIN BOWLS Turn your kitchen into a Paris café with this set of four porcelain bowls.

$35 plus shipping and handling*

$25 plus shipping and handling*



Joyful holiday scenes are depicted on this red-toile canvas market bag. Measures 12” W x 15” H.

This set of two Christmas glass votive holders features holly berries and leaves immersed in fake water. Votive candle not included. Measures 5” W x 5” H x 5” Dia.

$18.99 plus shipping and handling*

$60 plus shipping and handling*

RH_1412_91-93 10/19/14 10:58 PM Page 93


Brighten your dinner table with this retro-style tablecloth depicting a festival of fruits. Use it on a square table or place it in a diamond shape on a large rectangular table. Made of 100% cotton and machine washable. Measures 52� H x 52� W. $38.95 plus shipping and handling*


7KLVUH¿QHGZURXJKWLURQFDQGOHVWDQGH[XGHVYLQWDJH French elegance. Slender ivory curlicues form a stylish support for a thick pillar candle; lavish swags of glittering crystals turn the light into a dancing diamond display. Made with iron with acrylic beads. Measures 4-1/2� dia x 9-1/4� H. Candle not included.

$6.52 plus shipping & handling*

ANGEL OF PETS CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT A beautiful angel holds a kitten in one hand and a SXSS\LQWKHRWKHU7KLVKDQGSDLQWHG¿JXULQHPDGH of resin and embellished with glitter, is ready to hang on a tree or hook with its gold cord. Measures 6.5� T. A sentimental gift for pet owners or your veterinarian.

$19.99 plus shipping and handling*


7KHGD\VRI&KULVWPDVDUH¿OOHGZLWK sweetness thanks to this whimsical towel. It’s the perfect gift for the chocoholics on your list. $10 plus shipping and handling*

*For international destinations, please email us at or call us toll free at |800| 764.6278

RH-1412-94-Shoppinguide-CNM 10/14/14 1:24 AM Page 94

shopping guide From Past to Present


Pages 12–18

Page 98

Manila packing labels: Staples, visit

Lavender hand cream: L’Occitane, visit

Vintage clipart: Visit

Glass bottles: Walmart, visit

Clean Day Hand Soap: Mrs. Meyers, visit

Vintage accessories: Surroundings by Melinda,


Sparkling grapefruit water: Perrier, visit

Party Perfection Pages 38–41


Vintage holiday pieces: Tea Leaf Cottage, 141 N. Glassell Street, Old Towne Orange, CA 92866.


(714) 771-7752.

Family Matters


Pages 60–69

Paint: Matt Emulsion, Salie 13, Roos 41 and Slate, visit Accents: Ambiente Decoraties & Brocante, visit Bench: Klepbanken, visit Pillows (on bench): Philipse Vintage and Brocante, visit


coming next month


Ring in the New Year with a little romance and a touch of creativity.



We’re bursting with ways to make the new year sweet! In our next issue, Selina Lake shares her tips for a perfect Valentine’s Day celebration, and we tour a home that will make you fall in love with chipped paint and cheery colors all over again. Plus, our annual Romantics feature is back! Join us as we share the people who inspire us most, and we’ll get 2015 started off right— with shabby elegance.

RH-1412-95-adindex 10/16/14 6:27 AM Page 95

Vintage Rose

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Wesley Allen Beds Winsome ....................85 The Advertiser’s Index is provided as a service to Romantic Homes readers. Romantic Homes is not responsible for omissions or typographical errors on names, page numbers or contact information.

DECEMBER 2014 95

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LIMIT 1 - Save 20% on any one item purchased at our stores or or by calling 800-423-2567. *Cannot be used with other discount, coupon, gift cards, Inside Track Club membership, extended service plans or on any of the following: compressors, generators, tool storage or carts, welders, floor jacks, Towable Ride-On Trencher, Saw Mill (Item 61712/62366/67138), Predator Gas Power Items, open box items, in-store event or parking lot sale items. Not valid on prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase date with original receipt. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 3/18/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.





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market center

For more information on advertising in Romantic Homes, call Mary Ann Jaca (866) 866-5146 Please ask for “Market Center Service Department�or call: 800-332-3330 22840 Savi Ranch Parkway, Suite 200, Yorba Linda, CA 92887

Back Issues Available

Paris In A Cup Tea Salon & CafĂŠ Serving Lunch, Tea & Desserts Gift Shop featuring: French Imports, Souvenirs de France, Teas & Unique Gifts 119 S. Glassell Street Old Towne Orange, CA 92866


Events Romantic Homes readers are seeking your events!

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         November 14–16 • On-Line Gallery Show & SALE! February 27–28 • “heART of Winterâ€? with The Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery, Sanford, FL April 24–26 • Country Living Fair – Inaugural Tennessee Event! • Lebanon, TN          

RH-1412-98-Favorites-CX 10/16/14 6:18 AM Page 98

Carolyn Westbrook


Beginning in the new year, designer and author Carolyn Westbrook will be rejoining Romantic Homes as a regular contributor! Carolyn will bring her flair for romantic style as well as her eye for French-inspired design by sharing projects, ideas and valuable tips. Before she helps you take a bit of her signature style home, get to know the author of Carolyn Westbrook Home, The French Inspired Home, Through the French Door and A Romance with French Living better as she shares her favorite things. 5



4 2

to go

1. My romance with French and my obsession with lavender are apparent, as I will drive for miles to the L’Occitane store to grab a tube of their lavender hand crème. There is absolutely nothing else like it, and it is, after all, French. Not only does it smell heavenly but it also smoothes and moisturizes dry, cracked hands. Visit 2. The always simple but gorgeous beauty of the white linen bedspread from Carolyn Westbrook Home. I still love them after all of these years. 3. I am obsessed with the smell of lavender in the home—it is the ultimate aromatherapy. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Hand Soap makes me want



French Living.

wash my hands just to get a whiff. The kitchen spray cleaner is also amazing, and sometimes I just have to spray it into the air, just to smell it. These products are not full of harsh chemicals either, so that’s another benefit. Visit 4. I absolutely adore Chanel No.5. Parfum, eau de toilette, powder—the fragrance is a classic, and a classic never goes out of style. Available at major department and specialty stores across the world. 5. I love white hydrangeas and pink garden roses—always. These were arranged for the centerpiece of a table, which ended up being used as the cover for my new book, Carolyn Westbrook: A Romance with


6. I don’t drink sodas any longer, and plain water gets tiring all of the time. Let’s face it; sometimes you need a bit of sparkle in your drink. Perrier has some wonderful flavors, like grapefruit, that are marvelous and refreshing. I like to pour mine into a beautiful glass and dress it up a bit with garnish, because we all deserve something yummy and special. Find a retailer at

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